Institutional Change in Local Governance (2007)

There are two general conclusions to draw from the Monticello experience. The first has to do with the unreasonable barrier to entry posed by the 65% requirement for a municipality to construct a local exchange. This is widely understood to be a serious barrier to entry. The general argument for such a vote is that a community should have to express its will about broadband ventures in telecommunications which are by their nature quite expensive.

Of course, cities make equally expensive decisions without being forced to meet the undemocratic standard of 65% super majority. The other argument offered by opponents of municipal entry is that municipalities should not be encouraged to offer competitive choice in the telecommunications service area. Requiring a 65% majority certainly does discourage municipalities. Sometimes the barrier is overcome (as with Monticello), but sometimes not. In any case, the opponents to the 65% rule attack it as highly undemocratic and point out that it is punitive to cities to have to engage in expensive preliminary explorations to clarify whether, in business terms, there is a viable project and then much later finally test the question of approval for a telephone exchange.

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